Last January, I did a two week MovNat challenge on instagram with my then 9-month-old. Each day I filmed myself doing the assigned movements, with the added challenge of carrying and/or caring for my baby.
I came across MovNat through my favourite biomechanist, Katie Bowman, whose message is that we don’t get enough “movement nutrients” in our modern lifestyle and our bodies and minds are suffering for it in all kinds of fascinating ways.
MovNat is one system designed to help restore our ability to do functional movement. I felt pretty beat up after having a baby, and in need of some restorative movement. What’s more natural and functional than carrying a baby?
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited along on a field trip to see the three seasonal sleeping pavilions that Arata Isozaki built for Jerry Sohn in Pipes Canyon.
Pipes Canyon is about 40 minutes drive from our house, near Garth’s land, and the area is totally spectacular–equal to the National Park.
I was curious to see what Isozaki came up with. I would love to sleep outdoors more – especially on summer nights, when it’s hot inside and perfectly lovely outside – but it seems tricky: if you leave your bedding out, scorpions, snakes and black widows might burrow in. In other seasons, wind and chill can make sleeping outdoors less appealing, though the stars are amazing year round.
Isozaki spring/fall sleeping pavilion. Photo source: domus
I was impressed by the designs:
The winter pavilion is a cube with glass on the south and west faces, as well as overhead. It’s oriented so the afternoon sun can heat up the slab and warm the small space. The ceiling glass lets the sleeper see the stars.
The summer pavilion is a cantilevered slab, away from snakes and open to the breeze.
The spring/fall pavilion is beautiful, though the function of its shape and orientation is less clear. Perhaps the roof and wall are meant to shelter against a prevailing wind, or the occasional rain? If nothing else, the barrel vault is sensual and welcoming and breaks open the formality of the other two.
And what about bedding? There are metal boxes near each pavilion that apparently hold sleeping bags (I wonder what they use for padding?).
It’s too bad most of us get one bedroom for all seasons (and one house) because really the shelter we need is so different from season to season, and there’s a lot to be gained by separating them.
A few months ago I visited Donald Judd’s La Mansana de Chinati in Marfa, Texas.
I was most inspired by his domestic spaces, which were not really on the tour, but could be glimpsed around the periphery. Look at that shelf behind the kitchen counters – so handy and beautiful!
My photos of the house kitchen, below, are terrible, but I find myself coming back to them to study the details of the furniture and the room itself:
Another thing I liked about Judd’s studios is that there’s a daybed in almost every room. That level of human comfort seems rare among modernists. As my brother-in-law Ely said, “there can be a sense that the staging of human life is not their first purpose.”
La Mansana library
La Mansana library
La Mansa staircase, furniture
La Mansana adobe wall, furniture
La Mansana bed
If you have a chance to visit Judd’s Marfa house and studios, don’t miss it.
I’ve been going to the Oregon sessions of Not Back to School Camp on and off since I was 16 – almost 20 years. It’s where my husband Nathen and I met, which means it’s also why I live in the desert. So imagine my delight when I found out there would be a session of camp just down the road from our house.
It’s been six months since that session wrapped up. It was totally lovely, and I look forward to the next one (it’s pencilled in for November 2016).
Here are the group photos my brother Rob took of the whole group, then staff, then just junior staff (the latter win for style).
I posted a bunch of pictures when we first moved into the trailer (and some were published in Lloyd Kahn’s book Tiny Homes on the Move). We’ve been living here over two years now and have made some changes, so I thought I’d post an update.
So many of the tiny homes on the internet are photographed before anyone has ever moved in, so I hope you’ll enjoy the realistic clutter I’ve staged for you.
Click through to read the captions.
Bookshelf and instrument storage.
We made some peg rail for the bedroom, with custom spacing to work around the light fixtures. I made curtains and storage pockets that hang from the peg rail. We also hang hats here.
We took out the gross and noisy fridge before moving into the trailer, and replaced it with an outdoor fridge. The fridge nook went through several iterations. Eventually I realized what I needed most was more food prep space. I found this kitchen island from Ikea that fit the space perfectly. Nathen made the shallow shelves so we could see and reach all our dry goods easily.
Kitchen cart in the retracted position.
This plate rack was part of our original renovation, but it’s genius enough to mention again; Nathen, kitchen designer Johnny Grey and I all agree that things should dry where they live. The utensil rail over the sink is a recent addition. Its a Bygel from Ikea, with a bamboo cutlery box from the thrift store for cutlery (more drip-dry storage). The galvanized backsplash and magnetic knife rail were part of the original renovation. The magnetic spice jars were a wedding present. I’m very pleased with my funnel storage too.
After a small engine fire on the property we realized the trailer needed a fire extinguisher. I mounted it opposite the stove, with room to sweep under it.
We turned the too-deep pantry into a broom closet using two sections of leftover peg rail.
I call these hooks Boxing Octopi. We’ve hung 7 in our trailer so far.
A folding chair and stool that folds or slides under the table make it easier to clear the floor and sweep. Note the baskets. I love baskets. For the trailer, narrow baskets are particularly useful since they fit on the shelves and in our closets. I’ve thrifted almost a dozen since we moved in.
Our friend Barnett fixes up vintage trailers to rent out during the Joshua Tree Music Festival. I really like the way he fixes them: a coat of paint for waterproofing, rusted metal patches on the siding, wooden window frames, improvised doors. The insides are usually gutted and painted bright colours; plywood patches are applied where needed. A lot of the trailer renos you see on the internet are painstaking restorations. This is not that. This is something a little wilder.
This is how you get power where you need it in the desert
Our architect and natural builder friend Nicholas Holmes took Nathen and I to visit Quail Springs Permaculture, a demonstration farm and village nestled in a canyon near Santa Barbara. Quail Springs hosted a weekend harvest festival that included a tour of the farm, Q&A, and workshops on milking and butchering.
Because we went with Nicholas, we also got an architectural tour, which was great! The handful of houses on the property all seemed to be around 400 sq feet, and each boasted a slightly different design and mix of materials while maintaining a sense of aesthetic unity. A bit like a historical reenactment village… OF THE FUTURE. Some houses had kitchens, while others were just studio-bedroom pods (there is a communal kitchen and composting toilets just a little ways down the canyon).
Nicholas described a roofing system used on several of the buildings at Quail Springs: reed mats are tacked up to the rafters with strips of wood; an earthen plaster is applied from the top and wiped flush from below. Then blue-jean insulation batts go between the rafters, and a plywood and metal roof is screwed on top. I like the texture of the ceilings.
Nicholas had lots of great things to say about light straw-clay (otherwise known as straw-clay, light-clay, or leichtlem), which is straw coated in a clay-slip and tamped into forms around a timber frame. Apparently it offers more insulation than cob due to the high straw content, while being more moisture-resistant than straw bale, due to the clay (I’m making a test brick right now, with clay harvested from a wash and some extra mulch straw).
We slept in a straw-clay dome two nights while we were there, and I loved the japanese-paper texture of the walls and the cozy feel.
Also, the view!
There’s a lot more to say about Quail Springs, but that’s enough for one post.
There is nothing quite so exciting as finding food in trees, especially in the desert. Once you start looking, you notice more and more. Honey mesquite trees are commonly used in parking lot landscaping all over the high desert. The other day a friend and I were snacking on mesquite pods in a parking lot and were approached with curiosity by both the manager of the nearby McDonalds and a panhandler. Both were very skeptical about tasting the pods. If only they knew how much the flour costs in health food stores.
Olive trees are less common, but I just noticed these ones in a supermarket parking lot in Yucca Valley. Score.
I’m starting to keep season and location notes for myself so I will know exactly where to harvest things like olives, mesquite, palo verde, prickly pear, pine nuts and wolfberries from around town when they’re in season.